DEL MAR, Calif. — People from across San Diego came together in North County for International Overdose Awareness Day Sunday. The day aims to spread awareness, reduce the stigma around addiction and remember those lost to overdoses.
This awareness day comes as San Diego was just named a fentanyl epicenter a few weeks ago. Federal officials say the deadly drug is coming through San Diego more than ever before.
"It's a remembrance of my son's life," Mario Tamayo said.
Tamayo lost his 25-year-old son to an overdose.
"He was a person who was much more, much bigger than what his problems were with alcohol. He was an alcoholic. He unfortunately was killed by fentanyl poisoning the night before he was going to rehab," Tamayo said.
He shares his son's story in the hopes it will help others.
"Not being judgmental. It's helping to reduce the shame that people have because this is a disease. Who is ashamed of being a diabetic?" he said.
Nathan Smiddy took the podium and shared his story.
"That year alone I lost 16 friends to opioid overdose that's when the drug supply was really infiltrated with fentanyl in Tennessee," Smiddy said.
Smiddy moved to San Diego four years ago to overcome his own addiction. He now spends his time spreading awareness and distributing the overdose reversal drug Narcan. He said the distributions have helped save 1,000 lives so far.
"Community members and people just like me are making more of an impact than any government funded organizations," he said. "I've seen regular people make more of a difference by coming together and getting involved."
Finding strength in solidarity.
"There's a saying. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you go together," Tamayo said.
Find local addiction recovery resources, here.
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